So what do you mamas do when you get to a spot of learning that, frankly, you’d rather not go through again? The first time through, we jumped in, both feet, no testing the waters, big splash. Sometimes it was good, sometimes we felt like we were drowning.
Take Math. No really take it. My general idea was that if I taught them until the 7th or 8th grade, we could invest in a tutor type program and I could step back. Teaching Textbooks? DIVE CD’s with Saxon, America’s Math Teacher, No Nonsense Algebra with Richard Fisher, and KAHN. What would I need to do or know if I had all of these tutors just a click away?
Well, the issue came up in Algebra 1. Nate had done Teaching Textbooks solo and simply. He did every drill, worksheet, test, and aced it. I thought I was in heaven. Until he started having questions in Algebra 1. None of the programs could explain the math to him. So I would spend a couple of hours on Kahn Academy, talking to friends in forums, emailing the vendors. We’d finally figure out how to get to the right answer, but never understand the problem, or be able to explain how we figured it out. We just did it, exactly the way they told us to.
Enter Polynomials. Maybe my Arch Nemesis. Monomials, Binomials, Trinomials. Blech. HOURS. of crying, tears and frustration. And this week? Guess what son #2 had to learn in Pre-Algebra? Polynomials. Ya.
I think I have been putting it off. Dragging my feet. I remember how horrible it was with big brother. So yesterday – we jumped in. I didn’t share with Jon how much I hated these exercises, I just let him watch Mr. Demme on Math U See.
And I remembered. This was the lesson. #23. When I jumped in and begged to review Math U See. I just looked it up- it was two years ago – I wrote about it here: TOS Review, Math, Algebra 1, Math-U-See. Now I can’t remember what was so hard with these problems. It may have been the easiest lesson we’ve done so far.
But this year – I’m a different teacher. Because I’m a learner. I have been taking PreAlgebra side by side with Jon and Mr. Demme. I didn’t realize how much I had stabbed myself in the foot by skipping this course with Nate. I had no idea that I would be needed through high school. So now I fully understand exponents, negatives, squares, and the power of 10 from the Decimals book – to now really understand the power of X for Algebra.
The other thing I remember, is that Mr. Demme lined up the numbers differently than the other programs with polynomials. It was also a fun ‘ah-ha’ moment when we worked these out with blocks, and you could SEE how the math was done, one didn’t need a formula to figure it out.
I asked Nate today if he remembered why polynomials were so hard. He shivered a little bit. I told him to look at Jon’s worksheet today and tell me if he could do it – and he said it wasn’t fair. Why does Jon get Mr. Demme so early? Ha.
So – generally, when I don’t want to teach something, I put it off. I put off the hard. I admit it. But I do see the need to know higher math if college is on the horizon, which it is for my older son. He’s done really well.
My piece of advice – is quit trying to make something that is hard work out to be easy. Change products. Borrow. Rent. Purchase. Many of my friends enjoy Life of Fred, the only one we haven’t tried. Teaching Textbook not working? Try Math U See. Kid getting bored? Try Saxon or Singapore, they might enjoy the spiral method a little bit more. The funny part, is for whatever reason, I had decided that Math U See would not work for our family when the boys were in early elementary school. Now I have one son that has gone through Pre-Alg1-Alg2 and Geometry. I am pretty sure Jon will too.
Any other procrastinate through the tough part moms out there? Hello? Is this thing on?
Tougher math will be coming up for us in a couple of years…scary.